Using Agile Could Discard Performance Appraisals

Anna Majowska
3 min readJun 18, 2018

If you’ve ever undergone a work appraisal, chances are you’ve concluded that it was a great waste of time. Both yours, the appraising manager’s — and if there are a lot employees in the company, this can amount to a whole lot of wasted working hours.

The main reason for these personal work evaluations lack of purpose is the very fact that majority of them demand you to judge and evaluate your performance by yourself. How many of us are objective enough to honestly assess our own performance, goal setting skills and “value to the company”?

How we calculate ourselves is likely to be just a reflection of who we think we are and of how we perceive ourselves at work. More of this than of looking back at how we were actually doing over the appraised period of time.

That’s just one of the reasons why work appraisals are becoming a thing of the past and how moving towards more modern methods can fill a gap and help immensely.
What it requires an organisation to do is moving on from traditional post-work evaluation processes to a more Agile track-as-you-go approach.
This way, bulk of the day to day performance can be analysed while the work is still ongoing.

What would changing to this approach demand from a company? Adopting Agile methods requires not just an organisational and tactical, but also cultural change. It would not be enough to re-work the process in place into one more flexible, adaptive and scalable and to align it with the accompanying processes throughout the company. The main difficulty seems to be getting the team to change their perception of how work is done. We suggest starting with this, the more complicated, cultural shift.
From then on, splitting the current process into smaller chunks, regulating and adapting it to meet the required parts of the co-dependant processes run by other teams — will not be as hard.

Back to work evaluation — after an Agile mindset has been made present within an organisation, and the chosen processes are in place, following the team and individual progress should be easier.
An inseparable part of working with Agile is shared workflow management, either analogue or digital. In any case, the team present and visualize their jobs split into tasks on a physical or digital whiteboard.
Their progress is accessible to all onlookers and participants, together with the amount and often with results of the work done.

The fact that work items are tracked as they’re processed creates a perfect opportunity to keep work performance monitoring always updated — at the same time and with none or little additional effort.
For no extra work on this, the recommended way of work AND performance tracking would be using a digital workflow management service, for example: Kanban Tool.

As the team members carry on tracking their tasks and shifting them from planning through ongoing, monitoring, testing etc. right until done — at the same time, the analytical data is being gathered. Employee working time and speed, the process throughput (how many tasks get done in a given time) and tasks completion pace change over time are all measured by the application.
All of this allows not only to identify the improvement needing spots in a process, but it also provides employee-specific information on achievements.
Also, since a record of task completion and its details are tied to whomever has been working on it, it is very easy to track specific items and tie their quality level to the person who worked on them, thereby being able to assess this person’s work quality.
For a more hands-on overview of how these auto-generated performance metrics look, please see this short video.

Implementing such take on work quality and performance review seems like a natural step in an increasingly digital work environment. It takes advantage of having the analysis done automatically, while helping to keep the workflow in order and processes on track. Take this under consideration — asking people how they’ve done should be kept for character evaluation purposes only, while leaving objective performance tracking to a machine.

This article was originally posted on the Kanban Tool Blog.